Ceremony Photography: Should guests take photos during your ceremony?

I am really happy to talk about the subject of guests taking photos during a wedding ceremony, and if all photography rights should be exclusive to your photographer.  In the planning stages of a ceremony, I give couples the option of me asking guests not to take photos and not to post images to social media.  What do couples decide? The answer is a mixed bag, but most often its ‘leave it to the photographer’.

I recently delivered a ceremony, where the bride and her little girl, together with the bride’s dad entered the ceremony room to walk up the aisle. Naturally, the little one was a bit stunned but soon settled, and began to dance to the processional music. Yes, this was an adorable moment. BUT what hit me like a bomb was, the groom/dad could not see what was happening because the guests had taken over the aisle with their camera phones to record the moment. In truth, not one person with their phone out realised what the groom was missing.

Since that day, when couples say it’s OK for guest to take photos, I explicitly request guests not to lean into the aisle.  The photographer always thanks me. Remember, on a wedding day, the celebrant, photographer, musician, florist etc are all one big team that is hired to do their job, work together and get things right!

I was curious to know what a wedding photographer thought on the subject.  Thomas Stewart, a world-leading wedding photographer,  is well known for his very clear message (all 26,000 words) about having an unplugged wedding and of course his famous photo seen below. (With kind permission from Thomas)

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Another explanation on the impact of guest photography during your ceremony comes from Jenna Kutcher, an esteemed US wedding photographer (retired…a young woman who went on to do other great things).  Jenna has very kindly given permission for me to share her views with you. It’s a long read, but hang in there, its worth it <3.

Courtesy of Jenna Kutcher

Hey sweet friend,

I’ve been wanting to write to you for awhile. The thing is, our paths only seem to cross on the weekends and while Saturday strikes and I think of the words I’d love to deliver to you, I forget throughout the week and fail to reach you… until now. Here’s the thing, I have so much to say to you, but I’m never quite sure how to deliver it, because I see you and I know your intentions are pure. So first, just listen to my side, maybe you’ll rethink grabbing out your iPhone or packing your DSLR for the next time you get to witness a precious round of “I dos!” As our generation becomes the most photographed generation on the planet, we have become obsessed with documenting everything: from the minute we wake up to what we eat for dinner. Our lives are shared with the world and while it’s a joy – it’s also become a big problem.

You might not know it, but I’m always looking for you at my weddings. You blend in so well, try to appear inconspicuous, but as I start at the front looking into the crowd, I am trying to pinpoint your whereabouts and plan how I can work around you. Wait, you didn’t realize that what you do impacts me? It does. So while you’re positioning yourself in an aisle seat and clinging to that camera before the bride rounds the corner, I am coming up with action plans in my head. Here’s what you don’t realize: as the professional photographer, we are given guidelines. We can’t use flash, we need to stay put and out of the way, and we must remain discreet while delivering the BEST photos to our clients. So I am sure you can imagine the shock when you’re flashbulbs go off and suddenly our settings are wonky because we had no clue you were ready to strike.

I’ve watched mothers miss their daughters walking down the aisle, I’ve seen grandma’s hiding behind the glowing screen of an iPad, and I’ve witnessed so many moments that were missed simply because someone was scrolling through their camera roll to check out “the shot.” I don’t know everything, but here are a few things I do know: you, my friend, were invited as an honored guest. The couple didn’t invite you out of obligation or because you know how to use Instagram, they genuinely wanted your presence at their day. Whether you’re their college bestie, you used to babysit them and you have horror stories, or you’re their next door neighbor – I’d like to bet that they would far rather see your smiling face than what iPhone you have. So while you’re doing your best to document that precious aisle moment that they’ve probably been dreaming of for months (even years) their professional photos (the ones they will probably hang in their home) will not be of your sweet face but of your phone screen and determined look as you try to nail a Facebook worthy photo – which, let’s be honest, your photos probably aren’t turning out that great anyway.

When I am hired to do my job, my couples are investing in me and trusting me. Trust isn’t something I choose to take lightly so I will go to the ends of the earth to deliver them the photos they’ve been dreaming of. I can tell you a few things:  they didn’t dream of looking out into the aisle and seeing you (and ten of your posse) leaning in and holding out your phone in an attempt to be “discreet” and they definitely didn’t envision professional photos with all sorts of screens glowing in the background. When I see you, I feel a little sad, because here I am, a workhorse ready for battle and there you are throwing away an opportunity to be fully present for the very people who requested your presence.

What I don’t want you to hear is this: I am not a bitter photographer who is worried about you stealing my job, not in the least. In fact, I respect your desire to help remember the day! That being said, I think there is a time and place for your documentation (and it might not be in a dimly lit church with a captive audience!) I know my couples love seeing your images, I want you to be in them, but here’s what I would prefer to avoid: I don’t want to trip over you as you crouch in the aisle, I get distracted with you shooting over my shoulder, and I hate having to figure out how to creatively crop you out of the photos because you’re staring at your phone during precious moments. In fact, I am so set on seeing your face I make sure that my clients are given the opportunity to share their photos with their guests, so that not only can you live the day in the present, you can also relive those moments you were a part of for years to come.

So next time you’re inching towards the aisle or your point and shoot is ready to fire, I dare you to just sit back and relax. I was hired to document the day and I take that position seriously, so seriously, I might smile at you (but deep down I am willing you to simply enjoy being a guest!) My clients will thank you, I will thank you, and the photos that you get to be a part of will be a part of their legacy long after your blurry iPhones have been buried in the feeds of Facebook! Let’s not forget about what it means to be a witness to vows!

Let your presence be their present.

Love,

The Professional Photographer Hired to Do Her Job

Couples pay a lot of hard-earned money to hire the best photographers, and it’s not ok for the photographer to compete with your guests to do their job!  What would it be like if a guest came to the front of the room and read their own random text alongside mine?  Or if they popped into the kitchen and started putting a salad together…they would be booted out pronto!! So why is it acceptable for your photographer?  Not the same thing?  The conversation is happening over on Instagram, and I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Claire and Patrick

I first met Claire, a leading Irish wedding photographer, when we worked together on a surprise vow renewal ceremony, held at the lakeshore in Glendalough.  So, I was very honored when she asked me to be the celebrant for her and Patricks wedding.

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Courtesy of Paula O’Hara – Wedding Photographer 

 

Having seen Simone working before, I immediately knew I would love to have her at my own wedding too. When planning ours, our main concern for the ceremony was that it would be personalised to us and intimate. Simone worked with us to achieve exactly that and went above and beyond our expectations every step of the way. She thought of every detail to incorporate our loved ones and each ceremony element she helped us choose reflected us completely, including having our dog involved in the ceremony! Simone’s manner is kind and compassionate and she is deeply committed to achieving her client’s desires. Many of our guests also commented on her warm and friendly disposition throughout the ceremony. We are so thrilled to have had Simone deliver our ceremony and couldn’t recommend her more highly – Claire and Patrick

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Courtesy of Paula O’Hara 

Claire and Patrick’s wedding was elegant and timeless.  It was also the first time I worked with a ring bearer who was a (all be it gorgeous) golden retreiver! She was as good as gold. A last-minute decision to hold the ceremony inside turned out to be the right one, as it poured rain a few minutes in! I have such beautiful memories of Claire and Patrick’s day, and feel privileged to have been part of it ❤

For fine art wedding photography contact Claire at Studio Brown 

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Ceremony Music: what you need to know

It doesn’t matter if you prefer the Star Wars Death March, Cannon in D or Video Games, your ceremony music is your choice and can be anything you want it to be! Live band, soloist, iPod or choir…there are no restrictions, so make sure you take the time to choose exactly what you want.  Here are a few tips on planning and choosing your ceremony music and what you need to know…

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Vow Renewal in St. Stephens Green

Working with Kerri and Ronald was a treat!  Having traveled from Texas, U.S.A., they settled on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin City as the location for their vow renewal ceremony. Together with their adult children (and ducks and swans 🙂 ) they celebrated a handfasting ceremony…to once again tie the knot!

Simone is amazing! My husband and I wanted to renew our 30-year wedding vow in Ireland along with our two grown children as our witnesses. I contacted others but Simone listened to what I wanted. From the start, she is full of energy, consideration, and full of ideas and suggestions to make OUR day the most special and memorable! I highly recommend her to perform any ceremony. From my experience, I know she will ensure it is the most amazing for you!! In addition, we have a friend in Ireland!

~Kerri and Ronald

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We stood just to the left of the old kitchen, pictured above, on the water’s edge.  The old kitchen was the perfect contingency location if the rain came.

“In vow renewal, you once again give yourselves freely and generously into the hands of the one you love, and by doing so, you receive the love and trust of the other as your most precious gift.”

The ceremony start time was 10am, so it meant the family had the whole day to celebrate and explore our lovely city.

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We this is very exciting!  A Mrs2Be Brides Choice nomination is a big deal for me!brides_choice_awards_nominated_large_960x960 Creating and delivering a wedding ceremony, on one of the most important days in a couple’s life to that point, is an enormous responsibility.  While many think the ability to perform a ceremony comes naturally, they do not realize the amount of preparation that goes on behind the scene.  The hours I spend rehearsing and reviewing the ceremony or arriving at a venue two hours before kick off to ensure everything is ‘ship shape’, is never time wasted.

I am nominated in the Celebrant category, but there are a few more categories I think I am eligible for:

  • Acrobatics: as I am a dab hand at catching the mother of the bride as she trips on the red carpet (true story).
  • Florist: for making a button hole for the father of the groom out of flowers from the venue’s garden (also a true story)
  • Beautician: for not crying when hot wax poured down my arm from a toppled candle (another true story)

So thank you from the bottom of my heart for the nomination and good luck to all the nominees, you all rock!

Simone ❤

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Destination Wedding: Caitlin and Ultan

 

“He loves so simply and deeply, which I think is very rare” (Caitlin)

Planning a destination wedding can feel like a daunting task, but for Caitlin and Ultan it was a breeze!  Every detail was thought of and executed perfectly! The forest on the grounds of Cloughjordan House was the perfect setting for an organic and real ceremony. Ceremony music was provided by Celtic Breeze.

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Head over to ‘Sean and Kate’ to see all the beautiful details they captured on the day!

“Her motivation and drive inspire me and in turn positively motivates me to be the best I can be” (Ultan)

The day was unbelievably perfect and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. Our ceremony was so personal and it meant so much to us, and we want to thank you for bringing it all to life so perfectly. We are so happy that we chose you as our celebrant and you were so wonderful to work with! Thank you for being so flexible and hopping on Skype on the weekends because of the time difference, and for being so collaborative with everything to make sure we were 100% happy. Ultan gave you a shout-out in his speech during the reception and you got a huge round of applause from everyone! 🙂 So many people also came up to us during the night to tell us what an amazing job you did. Thank you SO much again for everything. We are so appreciative!
Cheers,
Caitlin & Ultan

Style & Sophistication: Aoife and Robie

Aoife and Robie celebrated their ceremony in the beautiful Trudder Lodge, a period House in Newcastle, Co. Wicklow.

Heavy rain showers had no impact on the style, elegance and excitement of the day!  I was the very lucky celebrant who was chosen to create Aoife and Robie’s wedding ceremony and I loved every minute of it!

The ancient Scottish tradition of handfasting was a very special moment, when Aoife and Robie made joint promises for their married life ahead.  Following this they shared their peronal promises for each other.  Their marriage was sealed with the giving and receiving of a ring and New Zealand Jade.

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They also secured love lettters in a wine box ceremony, that is waiting to be opening on their first anniversary!

I wanted to say thank you so much for your wonderful, personal ceremony on May 27th. Everyone raved about you and the ceremony. It was so unexpected for most people that I think they were genuinely entertained. The main comment was how personal and romantic the entire thing was.

Robie and I said from the start that you were our star supplier for the day. We knew once we met you that you were the perfect addition to our day. You guided us through it with such grace and determination that I honestly cannot imagine doing the day without you.

The one thing I really wanted to make sure is that we felt the ceremony, took it slowly and enjoyed it. I can honestly say that we did and it remains my favourite part of the day.

Aoife and Robie

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If you would like to have a chat about planning your wedding ceremony, please feel free to give me a call on +353 877813594 or send an email to hello@thecivilcelebrant.ie

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

10 Tips To Choose The Right Celebrant

unnamed-1So often when I meet couples at wedding fairs, they are some what over whelmed with all the information that is given to them, and it can be hard to think about what you want to ask.

I have been working with Johanna King Photography and she is the designer behind an e-book that will be released in the coming months. Wedding suppliers have come together to share their top 10 tips to choose the right supplier for you.

I know this time of year is very busy for couples booking 2018 and 2019 weddings, so I am sharing my section of the book in advance of its full release.  Please feel free to click WeddingSuppliers_Celebrant for a PDF version that you can print out and bring with you when meeting your wedding celebrant.

If you are planning your wedding ceremony and would like to have an informal chat, please feel free to give me a call on +353877813594 or email hello@thecivilcelebrant.ie

From the heart: Amanda and Shaun

Amanda and Shaun – Silver Tasse, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Having travelled the world together, Amanda and Shaun returned to their home county of Donegal to celebrate their marriage with family and friends.

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The wedding rings were warmed with love by everyone present and then placed in Amanda and Shaun’s hands. Each strand of the gold cold representing the facets of their life together, secured the rings within, and the ‘Hand Blessing’was read.

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The best wedding vows are those spoken straight from the heart.  Amanda and Shaun openly shared stories of their adventures and how it united them in a most unique way.

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Every tiny detail represented Amanda and Shaun and their wonderful life together!

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Thank you for delivering the most perfect ceremony on our wedding day! Without you it truly would not have been so special.  You are so very good at what you do and I would recommend you highly. Thank you so much and we will never forget the most perfect ceremony you delivered.

Amanda and Shaun

If you are planning your wedding ceremony and would like to have an informal chat, please feel free to ring +353 87 7813594.

I look forward to speaking with you!